Pranayama | Methods | Benefits
Life as we know starts with breathing and ends when the vital energy stops. The second it stops, the body vacuum opens, temperature, water and all elements start to escape from the body and nothing is the same again.
Prana (translated life force) is more than just the air but the vital force of energy & Pranayama is the practice of controlling the breath and energy through various methods.
I would hazard a guess that a majority of us have to re-learn and practice this technique of breathing which came at birth and then we lost it in the way. Especially anyone who feels stressed out or out of balance in any form. The logic is simple — if stress alters how you breathe, the reverse is also true.
Pranayama is not just about breathing but also being conscious of it at all times. A practitioner will tell you to watch your breath. The basis of all exercises (asanas) in Yoga starts with this, especially breathing always through it.
Begin With Prana
Slow down, take a minute, notice the air go in an out and that one minute will bring you a lot of awareness.
- How deep is it?
- How does it sound?
- Can you control it?
- Where does your mind wander when you breathe?
There are various types, we discuss 3 here
Ujjayi Pranayama (Victorious Breath)
One of the most common types of pranayama, is both long and smooth, creating feelings of relaxation and energy simultaneously. This is like the ocean wave, relaxing.
Start seated. Inhale. Gently resist the air on the inhale at the back of the throat. On the exhale, push the breath out. It should not feel forced.
Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellows Breath)
We’ve all experienced fatigue, but how can we resist it? The next time you’re looking for a jolt of energy, try this and notice if you feel more invigorated. Because this is an energising breath, it is recommended to do first thing in the morning.
To perform this, sit up tall and take some breaths through your nose, expanding your belly. Exhale forcefully through your nose, then inhale at one breath per second.
Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breath)
If your mind is racing or scattered, this might just be for you. If you haven’t already guessed from its name, the exhalation in this pranayama resembles the buzzing sound of a bee and can help de-stress, calm the nerves, and rid the body and mind of accumulated anxiety and tension.
Start in a seated position with your eyes closed. Place your index fingers on the cartilage between your cheeks and ears. As you exhale, gently press on this point while making a high-pitched buzzing sound. Continue for five cycles.